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O'Connor says Jazz will re-evaluate Okur in October

Published September 14, 2010 1:41 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said center Mehmet Okur will be re-evaluated by the team in mid-October.

Okur, who is recovering from left Achilles tendon surgery, has started running drills and recently worked out with teammates in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Okur's agent, Marc Fleisher, said his client is working hard during his rehabilitation and is pleased with his progress.

"He's doing everything he can to get back on the court," Fleisher said.

The 6-foot-11, 263-pound Okur averaged 13.5 points and 7.1 rebounds for the Jazz last season, starting 73 out of 82 regular-season games. The 31 year old dealt with a sore Achilles during the latter part of the year, then ruptured it during Game 1 of a first-round playoff series against Denver.

The eighth-year center from Turkey has spent six consecutive seasons with the Jazz. Okur, who is under contract through 2011-12 and is set to make $9.4 million this season, has averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds during his career while playing in 92 percent (604 of 656) of his possible regular-season games.

While a mid-October date looms large for Okur during his rehab, multiple sources said Utah is realistically targeting a December-January return for the center. Okur underwent surgery April 20 to repair a ruptured Achilles.

A league source stated that the Jazz are employing an "Elton Brand" timetable for Okur. Brand, a Philadelphia forward, missed 74 games in 2007-08 for the Los Angeles Clippers while recovering from Achilles surgery.

It has been less than five months since Okur had his surgery, and he is less than two months into his rehab.

Asked if the Jazz expect to enter the 2010-11 season without their starting center, O'Connor would only say that the team will first evaluate Okur's progress, then make "some decisions."

O'Connor stressed that Utah will not place a deadline on Okur's return, adding that the organization has a history of being cautious with injured players.

"When we deal with these things, we never put a timetable on anything," O'Connor said. "And I know everyone gets a little frustrated with us. But because I don't want to put pressure on our players, first of all. Secondly, I don't want people to think that we're (misleading) them." Utah's training camp, which will be held in Salt Lake City, starts in less than two weeks.

— Brian T. SmithCheck the Tribune's Utah Jazz Notes blog at sltrib.com/Blogs/jazznotesTwitter: tribjazz